After a calamitous week, the Warriors need nothing short of victory when they face Mozambique in their second Group G Fifa World Cup qualifier at Zimpeto Stadium in Maputo, tomorrow afternoon.
Kick-off is 3pm local time.
Coach Rahman Gumbo and his men eventually left Harare yesterday morning via South Africa before connecting to Maputo later in the day, all thanks to Mbada Diamonds, who forked out $44 850 for air tickets.
In addition, Mbada has put aside $50 000 for winning bonuses and has paid $12 500 and $6 500 for appearance fees and training allowances respectively.
Following the opening 1-0 home defeat to Guinea last weekend, Gumbo and his charges will be hard pressed to win the match to keep pace with the group’s early pacesetters.
Favourites Egypt are top of the group with three points, following their 2-0 win over Mozambique while Guinea are not far off as they also have three points but have an inferior goal difference compared to the leaders.
Zimbabwe are third, while Mozambique anchor the group. Guinea are at home to Egypt.
The Warriors’ preparations for the all-important match have been unsatisfactory.
The team was denied access to a training venue on Wednesday, a day before they were briefly locked outside their rooms at a local lodge.
They also wasted a day of training on Thursday as they failed to travel to Maputo.
The Warriors were supposed to travel on a mid-morning flight, but were moved to an evening flight before it was eventually cancelled because Zifa had not bought the tickets.
However, that will not be enough excuse for Gumbo not to return home with a positive result, and the former Warriors midfielder is well aware of that.
From his selection of the travelling squad, Gumbo has kept faith with the team that played Guinea and they are not likely to be major changes as indicated by his assistant coach David Mandigora on Tuesday.
No doubt the coach will be hoping this decision will not reproduce last week’s results, where a host of chances were created, but striker Takesure Chinyama — obviously distracted by attempts to “smuggle” him to South Africa — and Knowledge Musona took turns to miss.
The hosts also face a similar predicament.
Following their defeat to Egypt, another loss for the Mozambicans and their hopes for the Brazil World Cup will definitely be up in smoke.
The team received a big boost with the arrival of their two stars Miro and Elias Pelembe, who plays alongside Warriors defender Esrom Nyandoro at South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns.
Miro did not travel to Cairo for unknown reasons, while Pelembe had visa complications.
For Mozambique coach, Gert Engels, the myriad of problems faced by his new employers will not affect their performance, and after losing to Egypt, the target is to start winning against Zimbabwe tomorrow.
“Mozambique is still one of the poorest nations in the world, so there are financial limits to what we can do with the national team,” he said.
“For this reason, we have to be even more thorough when we review our organisation and structures. There’s talent here and people work very hard, so I’m convinced we can achieve a great deal more if we pull together.
“Every day in Mozambique is exciting, and you experience 1 000 things you weren’t expecting.
Once we turned up for training, the pitch was already in use, so we simply couldn’t train.
“Another time there weren’t enough seats on the team bus! Some of the players and I had to follow the bus in a taxi,” he told Fifa.com.
“Obviously we’re not favourites in the group, but there are still five matches to play and we want to show what we can do,” he said, now looking ahead to the meeting with Zimbabwe tomorrow.
“Everything is possible in football, as I’ve experienced over and over again in my long career.
“My team has already visibly improved, as confirmed by our Europe-based players, who don’t see the team on a regular basis. They’re positively surprised and that’s testimony to our work. It would be nice if we were still in with a chance after the match against Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, I’m certain we’ll pick up a few points.”